Respect reigns on both ends of the court

MATCH PREVIEW: Neither Denmark nor Croatia are willing to accept the favourites' role ahead of their semi-final on Friday

Photos: Uros Hocevar / Stephane Pillaud

It will be the two teams with the most experience in playing semi-finals at EHF EURO level  that meet at the Jyske Bank Boxen at 21:00 hrs for Friday night's second semi-final.

For Denmark as well as for Croatia it will be their seventh semi-final at an EHF European Championship, and Denmark's head coach Ulrik Wilbek refrains from predicting the outcome.

At the Danish team's press conference on Thursday, he expressed huge respect for Croatia's central defence.

If the Danes have problems getting to opportunities from the centre, it may mean extra work for the Danish wings.

One of those wings is right wing Lasse Svan Hansen, who always enters the court from the start of the second half, when Hans Lindberg has been playing the first 30 minutes.

And Svan Hansen is well aware that he might has to take on some extra responsibility.

"It might be so. As Ulrik (Wilbek) said, it is a bit hard to predict what kind of game it will be, but the whole team is ready to take the necessary responsibility.

"That goes for all positions, so if it is going to be a lot up to us wings, I am sure that we are ready to take responsibility from out there," he told

In the Danish team, right back Mads Christiansen sustained an injury at the back of his thigh in the match against Iceland, but he expects to be fit for the semi-final.

Croatian respect

Among the Croatian players, the respect for their semi-final opponents is obvious.

"We expect the most difficult match in this tournament against Denmark on their home court," said goalkeeper Mirko Alilovic who has been bothered by a stomach virus, but hopes to be back in shape before the semi-final.

"We have our chances in the semi-final, but we have to grab every single opportunity in that game if we want to beat Denmark."

Right wing Manuel Strlek expresses pretty much the same view on the match.

"Denmark is the favourite. They play on home court in front of 14,000 fans and it will be a hard match, but I think we can surprise if we give all we have," Strlek said.

written by Peter Bruun / ts